what’s for lunch
Area schools differ in policies concerning students’ lunch options
Northside schools have mixed rules when it comes to parents delivering their students’ meals.
Most schools generally don’t allow parents to bring their students’ lunches, but others are a little more lenient.
“We do not have parents regularly bring lunch in the middle or upper schools,” St. Andrew’s Director of Institutional Advancement Stephanie Garriga said. “We frequently have parents who will bring a child’s birthday lunch and eat with them, but besides birthdays and special occasions, we do not have or encourage parents to come bring their children lunch.”
Both Upper School Head Julia Chadwick and Head of School Dr. George Penick agree that the school encourages students to be responsible for themselves to prepare them for college, according to Garriga.
“We have a full cafeteria with multiple options. We have two hot lunch choices, a sandwich bar, a salad bar, premade sandwiches and more.”
Garriga said that though some students bring their lunch to school, the majority of students eat through the cafeteria.
Head of St. Joseph, Dina Kinsey, says her school practices the same policy.
“We don’t allow that,” she said. “They can bring food from home, but as far as bringing outside food inside the cafeteria to eat, we don’t allow that.”
Seniors may utilize their senior privileges and eat on the senior deck, but Kinsey said everyone else must eat in the cafeteria or in a classroom for a school-associated meeting.
“We don’t have middle-of-the-day dismissal… You have to get food from the cafeteria or bring it from home.”
St. Joe uses MMI dining services, giving the students a large selection of meals to choose from each day.
“We have burgers, nuggets, a hot meal of the day, a salad or fruit. We have quite a selection for such a small school.”
Kinsey said about half of the student body eats from the cafeteria and the other half brings a lunch from home, except on pizza days.
“That’s always a favorite, but, for the most part, it’s about half and half.”
At Prep, parents can bring their students’ lunches, but it doesn’t happen very often.
“It’s not prevalent here,” Prep Communications Director Ryan Sherman said. “If a parent wants to bring a special meal, they can bring it to the offices at the junior and senior high front desks. We have a handful that do that, but it varies from day to day and week to week.”
Approximately five parents will bring their student lunches to school in a week, 10 on a busy week, according to Sherman.
“There’s no limit, but they just have to bring it to the front desk. We don’t want people driving around and dropping it off in the back of the campus. We want to know when people are on campus.”
The cafeteria options are popular among students, according to Sherman.
“Kids are pretty happy with the food we have in the dining hall, according to the feedback I’ve gotten. We’ve got several options in our dining commons.”
Prep cafeteria options include a traditional or hot lunch meal (Café Classics), a salad bar (Garden Club), made-to-order sandwiches (Deli Depot), quick service food (The Grille Company), and Thursdays feature farm-to-Prep, similar to farm-to-table meals and food.
“The majority of students purchase food and eat lunch in the dining commons,” Sherman said. “We not only have all those options, but we have a coffee and smoothie bar, which features fresh brewed coffee, soft served ice cream and homemade smoothies with fresh, natural ingredients. Most students find they’ve got a pretty good thing going.”
Some Jackson Academy parents will bring their students’ lunches on occasion, according to Upper School Dean Steve Harvey.
JA offers students a wide variety of cafeteria options, so about half of the student body eats from the JA Café, while the other half normally bring their lunches from home.
MMI serves as JA’s dining service provider, and the JA café offers a daily hot meal for all grade levels as well as an a la carte menu for lower, middle and upper students.
“A la carte options include Garden Gourmet Build a Salad, Healthy Edge Soups and Potatoes, Deli Designs Build a Sandwich, wrapped and ready premade salads, fruit, wraps (and) hummus with pita chips,” Director of Marketing and Communications Patti Wade said.
JA students may also order items from The Grill or choose weekly specials. On Tuesdays, JA offers Chik-fil-a sandwiches as an option, and Fridays is Papa John’s pizza day.
“Thursday is the most popular day, with chicken offered both baked and fried,” Wade said.
JA uses Meal Pay Plus to simplify paying for meals.
“This program gives parents a way to provide funds for food during school hours (with) an online account for each student. The funds will be accessible through the student ID cards, which can be swiped to pay using their Meal Pay Plus account,” she said.
About half of the upper school students eat food from the cafeteria and about half bring their lunches, and a coffee shop is newly available.
“Students now have a student-run coffee shop called Common Grounds, located in the Learning Center. It operates from 7:30 a.m. to noon each day.”
MRA could not be reached for comment at press time.